Sharon said that that I am delighted and humbled to take the reins of the International Center for Journalists as president.Delighted because journalism is my passion, my calling, and I am extremely fortunate to work in the field that I love. Humbled to succeed the amazing Joyce Barnathan and the legacy she has built over the last 15 years. I’m also humbled because, as you know, the news media is in the midst of an unprecedented upheaval, an upending of how journalists do their work. We are witnessing disruption everywhere: from story inception to editing to dissemination – as well as how people pay, or don’t pay, for their news.
In such a tumultuous environment, it helps to remind ourselves what truly matters. I firmly believe that journalism – fact-based, incisive, independent journalism – matters. It matters now, more than ever. It matters to avid news consumers, and it matters to those who never read or watch a single news story. It matters to voters and non-voters alike. The state of journalism affects our health, and the health of our democracy. It matters.
I’ve had the privilege of being part of ICFJ since 2007. In thinking through our core values and the needs of our global network of journalists – 132,000 strong – I find myself coming back to one simple ideal: We need each other.
There’s a cliched image of the journalist as a lone wolf, off in the field, notebook in hand, or hunched over the keyboard, pounding away while gulping cups of coffee. Yet this is not what journalism looks like (except for the coffee, of course). It is collaborative. Always has been. Remember: It took Woodward and Bernstein – with a team of editors, designers and more behind them – to uncover Watergate and bring down a flawed president. No journalist is an island, as the Pandora Papers – a collaboration of 600 investigative journalists in 117 countries – reminds us just this week. Many of those journalists are members of ICFJ partner organizations and quite a few have been trained in our programs.
One of my objectives as president will be to strengthen these kinds of connections, fortifying our network and finding new ways to support it and to build collaboration. A good example is our Global Health Crisis Reporting Forum, which has helped journalists around the world share information and sources related to the pandemic – and, I’m proud to relay, recently received the Online News Association’s Community Award.
There is much work to be done. The challenges journalists face are very real and can, at times, feel daunting. But I’m confident we – ICFJ and journalists everywhere – can rise to the occasion and do work that matters. Together.